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How to Make Historic Buildings Energy-Efficient

The sensitive refurbishment of historic buildings in the UK has an important role to play in the fight against climate change. According to a report by the property group, Grosvenor, making all listed buildings and unlisted historic dwellings in conservation areas energy-efficient could reduce UK carbon emissions from buildings by 5%.

There are a number of ways we can improve the performance of an historic building that work with the traditional fabric of the building, without harming its special character. A perfect example of this is a project is a Grade II listed building on Colmore Road in Birmingham, which is in the heart of Birmingham’s commercial district.

Quoinstone was involved in the major redevelopment of the historic building in Birmingham, which incorporated several energy-efficient solutions.

As a result of the solutions installed, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of B. The achieved EPC score was higher than a new development of the same size and orientation and with similar other constraints. The building also obtained a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ certification - an international scheme that provides independent third-party certification of the assessment of the sustainability performance of individual buildings, communities and infrastructure projects.

To achieve the above, the project included the following:

Reduction in baseline heating energy consumption:

The refurbished building has a Grade II listing on two of the three façades, with a new curtain walling system on the rear of the development. A significant amount of new efficient glazing on the new top floor of the building was installed, resulting in passive solar gains. This contributed to a reduction in heating loads and improved daylighting. Brise soleil were fitted locally to the six-floor façade, which provided effective shading and a reduction in solar gain.

Heating & cooling system:

Air source heat pumps were installed to provide heating and cooling to the office accommodation.

Domestic hot water:

The building included gas fired water heaters which have a low carbon footprint based on the fuel used. Standing losses attributable to centrally generated and stored domestic hot water were minimised by the application of improved insulation standards to plant/pipework. Circulation losses were reduced by the application of trace heating to supply pipework.


Bespoke LED lighting and automatic controls were introduced throughout the building, reducing electrical consumption.

Further Sustainable management and control measures:

All major energy consumption equipment installed were metered, which included the air handling units, air source heat pumps and domestic hot water heaters. Sub-meters were provided to measure the energy consumption on the floors and allow tenants to monitor their energy use. Water efficiency saving features were integrated into the development. Low energy lighting with occupancy and daylight control has been provided throughout. Building controls and building management systems were designed to allow efficient monitoring and operation.

To find out more about the redevelopment, click here.

To discuss your next project with Quoinstone, please contact our team here.


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